BATON ROUGE, La. – After getting through three innings with no score, the LSU softball team would not be able to hold the powerful offense of the Georgia Bulldogs in check as the Tigers fell in the series opener Friday night, 6-1, at Tiger Park.
A three-run fourth inning by Georgia (35-6, 9-4 SEC) proved to be the difference as LSU (22-18, 4-9) managed just four hits, had two errors and scored one run in the final inning, while the Bulldogs got runs in the fifth and seventh to jump out to a six-run advantage with three outs left for LSU to try and make a late-inning comeback.
“I talked to the team about cleaning up some things defensively,” head coach Beth Torina said. “We would have had to make some great plays, but I think our team is capable of making those great plays. I think the more opportunities we give a team like Georgia, the more things they’re going to be able to put on the scoreboard.”
Ashley Czechner recorded a season high nine strikeouts, but fell to 7-10 on the season after giving up six runs, five earned, on eight hits with just three walks in the complete-game effort. Czechner retired eight of the first nine batters she faced, giving up only one of her three walks she had on the night in the second.
“Honestly, overall I thought (Czechner) did much better than what the numbers showed tonight,” Torina said. “She missed one pitch to Tina Iosefa that hurt us. Other than that, I thought she threw a really nice game.”
Georgia got four hits in the fourth, but the big swing came from Iosefa who hit a three-run home run, finishing the night 2-for-3 with a double, four RBI and a run scored. Paige Wilson was the only other player on the night to earn multiple hits, going 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
“Tonight I think a few things didn’t fall our way,” Czechner said. “They are obviously a great team. When they get on base, they make things happen. We just have to limit the walks and extra bases we are giving.”
Bulldog starting pitcher Chelsea Wilkinson struck out eight and walked three to move to 21-4 on the season, giving up two hits in the first inning before settling down and getting LSU to go down in order in four of the next five after that.
With Czechner having a no-hitter going after three full innings, the Georgia bats woke up in the opening frame of the fourth and earned consecutive hits to put two on. After a fielder’s choice grounder forced out the runner at second to put runners at the corners, Iosefa homered to clear the bases and give the Bulldogs the 3-0 lead. UGA went up four on an RBI double for the final run of the inning.
LSU came back in the bottom half of the inning with a leadoff single up the middle by Jaquish to take first. Bell followed that up with a high-chopping single to third base to put two on for the Tigers. A strikeout put one out on the board for LSU, with a grounder to second advancing the runners to second and third, and another back to third base ending the threat.
UGA scored a twice more, getting an unearned run on a sacrifice fly to deep center field to go up five, while a leadoff single in the seventh ended with a double to left center making the score 6-0 in favor of the Bulldogs.
Kellsi Kloss drew a walk to open the seventh inning, with Alex Boulet coming in to pinch run for the LSU catcher. Boulet advanced to second on the first wild pitch of the inning, with Sandra Simmons striking out and Boulet moving to third on the throw to first for the out. A walk to Allison Falcon put runners at the corners, and on the next play with Constance Quinn up, another wild pitch scored Boulet for LSU’s only run, while Layna Savoie who came on to pinch run for Falcon at first moved to second and was then thrown out trying to advance to third on the play for the second out. The game ended with a swinging strikeout.
Game two of the series is set for 6 p.m. at Tiger Park. The game will be the third-annual “Strikeout Ovarian Cancer” contest, and will be televised live on CSS and CST.
LSU HEAD COACH BETH TORINA
“Honestly, overall I thought she did much better than what the numbers showed tonight. She missed one pitch to Tina Iosefa that hurt us. Other than that, I thought she threw a really nice game. I talked to the team about cleaning up some things defensively. We would have had to make some great plays, but I think our team is capable of making those great plays. I think the more opportunities we give a team like Georgia, the more things they’re going to be able to put on the score board.”
“To beat a great team, you have to make great plays. Those are plays we are capable of making. They are tough, but if you want to beat a great team you have to make great plays. I don’t think we came on the winning end on any of those things tonight. It would have been nice if one of those would have fallen our way. We will come out tomorrow and compete with them. I think we will hang right with them on a Saturday with Baylee Corbello against Geri Ann Glasco.”
P ASHLEY CZECHNER
“Tonight I think a few things didn’t fall our way. They are obviously a great team. When they get on base, they make things happen. We just have to limit the walks and extra bases we are giving. My whole team is confident we will come back and get two wins this weekend.”
“It was a bad pitch. It was a little too up. They are huge swingers. They are a huge, powerful, offensive team. It was just a mistake she took advantage of.”
2B ALLSION FALCON
“Czechner did an amazing job on the mound. She did a better job than what the score reflected. I think you have to give Georgia credit for getting runs when they needed to.”